One of the landmarks of Kolkata, Victoria Memorial is a grand British-era structure built entirely of white marble. Constructed in the Indo-Saracenic revivalist style, using a mix of British and Mughal elements, the memorial draws influences from Islamic, Venetian, Egyptian and Deccani styles. Dedicated to Queen Victoria of England, it was constructed between 1906 and 1921 by the then Prince of Wales (who went on to become King George V) in 1906. Today, the memorial has been turned into a museum that has 25 galleries. It also houses paintings from the British Raj, along with memorabilia and manuscripts.

There are paintings of the queen and Prince Albert in the Royal Gallery, along with artworks depicting events from the queen’s life. A painting showcasing the state entry of the Prince of Wales in Jaipur in 1876 by famous Russian artist Vassili Verestchagin is a crowd-puller. Besides, you will find exhibits of weapons, sculptures, maps, coins, stamps and textiles here. A 16-foot-tall bronze statue – the figure of the Angel of Victory, symbolising victory - stands atop the grand building – atop the central dome. It is mounted on ball bearings and revolves with the wind. British Indian states and individuals who wanted favours from the British had contributed around INR 10 million to build this majestic building that took over 20 years to be completed.

The main building sits amidst over 64 acre of gardens. A national leaders’ gallery with paintings of Indian freedom fighters, along with several relics, was added to the Victoria Memorial, post India’s Independence. The Victoria Memorial stands on the Maidan (grounds) on the banks of the Hooghly river. Nearby is the well-known Chowringhee Road or Jawaharlal Nehru Road. The Victoria Memorial is being maintained by the Ministry of Culture. For a real feel of the British era, when Kolkata's culture thrived under the patronage of rich businessmen and a class of educated and elite gentlemen, locally known as bhadrolok, take a ride in the horse-drawn carriages that make rounds in front of the Memorial. As the horses trot through broad roads, with the majestic Victoria Memorial in the backdrop, it's easy to travel back in time.

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